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Which Big East helmet is the best?

5/26/2011

Last week, our friends over at the NFL blogs voted on what are the best helmets in pro football. At first, I thought it was kind of a silly idea. But then I found myself drawn into the debate, arguing over some of the selections and reading through the mountain of reader feedback.

I think you can see where this is going.

Yes, it is wildly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But we're also almost at Memorial Day, and things are pretty slow around college football. So why don't we try to decide which Big East teams have the best lids?

I'm going to offer you my rankings, and I'm doing this by category, from what I consider the worst to the best.

The boring, block-letter bunch: Connecticut, Rutgers, Syracuse

These three programs all go the safe, uninspired route. Just the school colors and the first letter of the university name in block style. Certainly nothing wrong with any of them, but nothing much to talk about, either. I'd rather see Syracuse in the all-orange helmets rather than the block "S," but maybe that's just me.

The 'Meh' department: Pittsburgh

I know there's a segment of the Panthers' fan base that would like to see the old Pitt script logo return. The current logo, with Pitt in block letters, isn't all much more interesting than UConn, Syracuse or Rutgers. In a city where the Steelers have iconic helmets, it feels like Pitt could do something a bit more original than this.

The good-but-not-great category: Louisville and Cincinnati

Now we're getting somewhere. Both the Cardinals and the Bearcats have pretty cool helmets. Louisville wears the bird on the side of their heads, while Cincinnati has the "C Paw" that looks sharp on the black lids. Both are clearly in the upper half of the league when it comes to fashionable helmets, but I have to deduct some small points from each: Louisville for the still-too-cartoonish cardinal that inexplicably has teeth, and Cincinnati for those awful white helmets they wore in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The cream of the crop: USF and West Virginia

These are my two favorite helmets in the Big East. The South Florida U with bull horns is simple and clean, and going to the white helmets with green trim was a terrific idea. Even though USF hasn't been around very long, the helmets are distinctive.

The West Virginia helmet, though, gets my vote as the best in the league. The interlocking WV is traditional yet snazzy, and the colors really stand out. Even the coal dust-inspired Nike Pro Combat grayish helmets last year worked for me.

So that's how I rank the Big East helmets. I concede that this is largely subjective and a matter of personal taste. I want to hear from you on which helmets you think are the best and the worst. Post your comments below or drop me an email. And how do you think TCU will fit into this conversation next year, because the Horned Frogs have some pretty cool duds as well. Of course, Texans know how to wear a hat.